Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunrise Sage Grouse Fun

Last weekend we were up early (3 am to be exact!) to join a group outing to a sage grouse lek (mating grounds). I've only seen the sage grouse mating ritual once, and was excited to witness it again. After a hour and a half drive, we made it to the lek just before sunrise. We were able to park within 50 feet of the birds and watch the males strut and perform their mating display. I didn't record their call, however, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an example posted on their site here:
If you would like to watch the display, this links to a video on -
Sage grouse can use the same mating grounds for hundreds of years! This male wasn't intimidated by the cars at all and came very close to us.

Since it is the end of the mating season, some of the younger males were on the lek. Occasionally they would either be chased off by the older males or fight.

This male is performing the mating display by puffing out air sacs in its chest.

The outing was organized because the Owyhee Initiative just passed protecting a large area of land in southwestern Idaho. If you are interested, more information about the initiative can be found here:

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